Enbridge Inc. has confirmed that a crude oil leak from a pipeline on its Norman Wells system in the Northwest Territories is far larger than originally thought.
The Calgary-based company has issued a new release saying it now anticipates the volume of oil released could range between 700 and 1,500 barrels.
When the leak was first reported by Enbridge on May 9, about 50 kilometres south of Wrigley, NWT, the company said only four barrels had been released.
The line was returned to service on May 20 after repairs were made, and Enbridge says the oil remains contained.
The company’s news release says the original four-barrel estimate was based on oil collected at the surface and did not take into account the subsurface impacts.
It says the increase in subsurface oil was discovered during an ongoing environmental site assessment.
So far, the company says it has removed about 100 barrels worth of oil.
“Third-party experts are onsite and we are working to define the subsurface impacts,” says the release.
“Once this work is complete, a revised estimate of the size of the release can be determined. We continue to recover oil and are shipping it off site. Contaminated water is being treated onsite. Contaminated soil will be removed once site conditions allow.”
The company says no watercourses are threatened by the leak and there has been no impact on the Willowlake River.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely,” says the release. “Crews of approximately 15 people, comprised of Enbridge and contract support personnel, are onsite and continue to recover crude oil, and conduct environmental assessment activities.”
The cause of the leak is unknown and remains under investigation.
The Norman Wells pipeline transports nearly 40,000 barrels per day of sweet crude oil to Zama, Alta., and was officially opened in May 1985.
Kevin Menicoche, the member of the legislature for Nahendeh, has said he’s concerned for the residents who live at the mouth of the river and for the safety of the water and animals.
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